The complete address to the public of the President Gjorgje Ivanov, in which he refused to entrust the mandate to SDSM’s leader Zoran Zaev, is full of inconsistencies, manipulations, spins, propaganda and explicit untruths, besides the fact that this is the first case of impeding a tranquil shift of power to the party or coalition with majority of seats in the Parliament.
Author: Vladimir Petreski
Owing to the fact that we’re facing a rather uncommon speech, with elements of manipulation and untruth so tightly packed one after another, it is necessary to do a paragraph-by-paragraph, and in some instances, sentence-by-sentence analysis, in order to entirely deconstruct and thoroughly examine them, so we don’t overlook significant particular attitudes or grouped assertions which paint the bigger, mostly thwarted, picture.
After the elections we were unpleasantly surprised by one post-election political platform by a foreign country. The platform is a post-election document penned and signed in a foreign country in the cabinet of a foreign statesman and mediated by a prime minister of a foreign country. The platform’s content is out of the Constitution and the Ohrid Framework Agreement.
It is erroneous to say that the platform has been “penned” in a foreign country or in the cabinet of a foreign statesman. The platform was penned by DUI. And it is widely known and published by the media that DUI, as the author of this document, called the other ethnic Albanian political parties to support it, whereas the mediation and the signing in the cabinet of the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama didn’t occur because he or somebody else in Albania was the author. Quite contrary, the mediation and the signing of the platform took place in his cabinet because BESA didn’t want to even hear about signing it, as this document is entirely DUI’s idea, and BESA has shown utterly confronting attitude toward DUI and has poured plenty of accusations on multiple instances about the participation of the most numerous ethnic Albanian party in the government in the past 10 years. That’s why DUI requested mediation from Edi Rama, and BESA was put in a situation to be the only party that would be left out, so it had to give in. But in the speech we see a plethora of “hints” related to the platform’s road, alongside with the “penning”, in order to leave the impression of some kind of “foreignness” of the document with the aim to build the impression that it is completely foreign, and consequently, hostile. And all of this is done besides the fact that DUI’s leader, Ali Ahmeti, has clearly stated that the meeting in Tirana is a result of the previous separate meetings of the leaders of the Albanian block with the Albanian Prime Minister and also that Rama is a facilitator, but not an initiator and creator of the platform. DUI’s leader also emphasized that there is also support from Kosovo for the advancement of the Albanian issue in Macedonia.
– The policy of the Albanians in Macedonia is not prepared neither by Albania nor by Kosovo. We have our own objectives, our own program, but every assistance from the like-minded in Albania and Kosovo, as well as the international community, is welcomed – Ahmeti said.
Moreover, he specified the location of the platform’s creation – the Aleksandar Palace hotel in Skopje. All of this shows that President Ivanov’s main goal was to brand the document as a “platform of a foreign country”, though all of its signatories are Macedonian citizens, leaders of parties registered in Macedonia in compliance with Macedonian laws. How can a document signed by citizens of Macedonia, all of them leaders of parliamentary parties registered in Macedonia, be named “platform by a foreign country”? That’s highly problematic. Here we must point out that the Ohrid Framework Agreement, for instance, was penned in cooperation with politicians from “foreign countries”, it was also signed with the mediation of politicians from “foreign countries” and it is a notorious fact that the final changes were made on the last day precisely by the mediators from those “foreign countries” during the breakfast at the hotel, and that document was “shoved” in the hands of both the Macedonian and Albanian negotiators to sign it as is, and they were told that it is the final compromise and no further changes are allowed. The warrants of this agreement are also “foreign countries”, but this doesn’t bother Ivanov, as he refers to the Ohrid Framework Agreement in his address. Not to talk about the fact that
The platform for the founding of VMRO-DPMNE was made in a tavern in Berlin, I believe “Old Skopje” was its name – SDSM spokesman, Petre Shilegov, reminded.
However, besides the inanity of the rhetoric gymnastics with geographical background, President Ivanov continues his manipulative and propagandistic quasi argumentation during his address by repeating the incorrect syntagm “platform by a foreign country”, with the aim to engrave it in citizens’ memory.
This platform jeopardizes the sovereignty and the independence of the country, leading it to a position of subjection to or dependence on other country. With this platform, the Republic of Macedonia has been blackmailed, whereas its unity, sovereignty and independence are under jeopardy.
In no way the platform does jeopardize the sovereignty and independence of the country. The sovereignty belongs to the citizens and they exercise it via elections. The platform doesn’t say that the elections shall be repealed. The independence of the country is guaranteed by the Constitution, and the platform does not propose amending the Constitution. And just as the sovereignty and the independence of our country are not jeopardized, neither is its unity. The argumentation for this is very simple: the unity is established by the Constitution, and the Constitution remains unamended. And when Ivanov talks about blackmail, it is completely unclear what he refers to. It is necessary to have a blackmailer to blackmail the Republic of Macedonia, i.e. somebody to blackmail it and to have something to blackmail it about. Such blackmailer is nonexistent, nor mentioned by Ivanov. Just as he didn’t mention the blackmail’s content. Why would the blackmailer of the entire country remain concealed isn’t clear. Especially because the President’s duty is to inform the citizens about such important issues, except if it is a matter of fiction. What’s the deadly sin our country or some of its most influential institutions or individuals have committed that would leave space for blackmailing? And why would all of these particulars be concealed?
The process of forming post-election coalition and a new government has become a hostage of this post-election platform by a foreign country. Instead of exiting the political crisis, we unfortunately sink deeper into it it because of this platform, which imperil the fundamental state interests of the Republic of Macedonia and its citizens.
The process of forming post-election coalition and a new government cannot become hostage to this platform. First and foremost, this platform, in the current form, will not become a part of the Macedonian legislative and legal system. Some analysts, such as Petar Arsovski for instance, call it “non-paper” (meaning a document as a basis for discussion, which will not become part of the formal policies, the formal agreements). It won’t be voted in the Parliament, Ivanov shall not have to sign a decree for it, it won’t be published in the Official Gazette of the RM. The only possible outcome is the incorporation of some of its parts (not all of them) in several laws, which however still do not exist in the form of official draft document, in the sense of originatinf from a competent state institution. Nevertheless, such eventual future steps and procedures are yet to be discussed in the Macedonian Parliament during a standard procedure, in a public discussion process, with amendments, and no one can tell the outcome of that entire procedure beforehand.
Furthermore, President Ivanov has no right before entrusting the mandate to analyze and assess party documents, because that’s the job of a separate competent institution, as the constitutional expert Svetomir Shkarikj, PhD explains:
The Constitutional court has the jurisdiction for assessing the constitutionality of party documents – statutes and programs, not the President, he emphasizes and adds that Ivanov has breached his constitutional authority and has severely violated the Constitution of the RM.
The platform, under no circumstances, question the fundamental state interests of the Republic of Macedonia. It does not deal with limitation of somebody’s rights, just with extension of certain, above all, language rights, it does not amend the basic document of the country, the Constitution, at all, it does not contravene the aspiration of the Macedonian people for their own country and it does not oppose to the fundamental state interests regarding the preservation of the entirety of the state’s territory, the sustainability and development of the political system, the strengthening of the democratic institutions, citizens’ interests of peace and wellbeing, and the aspirations of most citizens for EU and NATO membership.
For a long time, I have been expecting that certain political parties will demonstrate statesmanship and maturity and that they will refuse to even talk about such foreign post-election platform.
Unfortunately, we were witnesses that instead of rejecting it without discussion, some began bidding with it, not realizing that they actually bid with the country’s unity, the citizens’ identity and the state’s interests. The state’s character and future are nonnegotiable, and nontransparent talks cannot be taking place. The citizens have the right to know the truth about the talks’ content.
Here, Ivanov is talking about the platform’s post-election character, i.e. he is problematizing the fact that it was penned after the elections. He is trying to say that the citizens didn’t vote for it and by doing so he wants to dispute its legitimacy. The political parties of the Albanians in Macedonia before every elections, and these last ones were not an exception, give promises to their voters for extension of the language rights and extension of the Albanian language’s utilization. Therefore, it isn’t correct that it is a “post-election” platform. On the contrary, it contains some requests which are more than two decades old. Moreover, even if the platform was really been “post-election”, as Ivanov calls it, the submission of proposals for measures or laws after the elections had taken place isn’t prohibited by any law and this doesn’t occur for the first time. After the elections on 28 April 2014, the new government was constituted in the Parliament of the RM on 19 June, and just 8 days later, on 27 June, a session of the new government, which took place 2 months after the elections, saw the adoption of the decision on amending the Constitution, which contained 8 items, constitutional provision for formation of free financial zones, change of the name of the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia, to name a few. Though it wasn’t completely explained, still there was some information saying that there would’ve been different rules and probably laws in these free financial zones, with the aim to create favorable preconditions for the possible investors, which would mean that these zones would’ve had certain extraterritoriality. But just two months prior that session of the new government, VMRO-DPMNE announced its pre-election program, which didn’t mention anything related to the amending of the Constitution. The proposals for amending the Constitution were new “post-election platform” by VMRO-DPMNE, which the then ruling party adopted through its new government. Ivanov remained silent about all of this, although the citizens who voted on the elections just a few weeks prior that session didn’t have a clue that the party they voted for intends to amend the Constitution.
As we’ve already mentioned, the platform has nothing to do with the disruption of the unity of the Republic of Macedonia. What’s more, it doesn’t say anything about the state organization of the country. The more righteous allocation of budget assets or the care of underdeveloped areas are consequence of principles that already exist in the Constitution of the RM.
One of the daftest statements in Ivanov’s address is the one that the character and the future of the country could not be negotiated in a nontransparent manner? This statement is a complete nonsense. Every time when political parties meet to negotiate and talk about making pre-election or post-election coalitions and about making joint political platforms and programs, they actually negotiate and talk about the country’s future. Coalition talks always result in a platform, which by its nature is related to the future. And the negotiations between the parties take place away from cameras, because if they take place in front of cameras, they would’ve always been unsuccessful. For example, when VMRO-DPMNE and DUI were negotiating the constitutional amendments in 2014, they negotiated the character and the future of the country in a nontransparent manner, to use Ivanov’s words. Where was the President back then to warn them that they can’t do that? Finally, how should the political parties negotiate? In a stadium, in front of audience, as if on a football match? All coalition negotiations between the parties take place away from cameras. This was also the case when VMRO-DPMNE and DUI held unsuccessful negotiations for possible coalition several weeks prior. There were no cameras in the rooms when they also negotiated the formation of the new government, of course. Until the very last moment, the Macedonian public didn’t have a clue whether these two parties will coalesce, and to make things even worse, we still don’t know why those negotiations failed, because DUI claims that the reason for the negotiations’ failure was its support of the Special Prosecution Office, whereas VMRO-DPMNE claims that it objected DUI’s request regarding the utilization of the Albanian language. Where was Ivanov to oppose “that nontransparent negotiations cannot take place?”
Hence, the second substantial remark is that talking about the content or negotiating a platform by a foreign country is contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia.
Moreover, negotiating and accepting foreign platform is a punishable act according to the Criminal Code, because it means leading the Republic of Macedonia in a position of subjection to or dependence on other country.
How can “talking about the content or negotiating a platform” even “by a foreign country” (and we have determined that it’s not a platform “by a foreign country”) be contrary to the Constitution of RM? Which Article of the Constitution says that? Since when a normal conversation is contrary to the Constitution? Has somebody restored the verbal tort in Macedonia? Or maybe the Article 16 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of thought and expression has been repealed? What kind of subjection to or dependence on other country is he speaking of? To whom Macedonia has been subjected or would have been subjected? To Albania? What would that subjection consist of? How would it be manifested? Or even dependence? Albania will somehow come and steal our economy? Will attack us? What’s the matter here? And why there is need to omit certain things? Maybe the President is worried that he will disturb the public if he’s honest and open before the citizens, which is, by the way, his constitutional obligation? If there is some kind of external danger to Macedonia, i.e. “subjection to or dependence on other country”, Ivanov’s duty is to immediately inform the public about the danger and the danger maker, instead of hiding himself behind the rhetoric composed of unclear and unexpressed sentences, which conceal more than they clarify. The thing is that, of course, no subjection or dependence, neither something similar would have derived from the negotiations between SDSM and DUI, just as neither subjection nor dependence popped up during the negotiations between VMRO-DPMNE and DUI, although they talked about the same topic (formation of coalition and new government) and the same issues. But back then, Ivanov wasn’t talking about RM’s subjection or dependence, although according to multiple officials of DUI, VMRO-DPMNE has accepted all the requests on extension of collective rights.
Ivanov continues using the same rhetoric and the same style until the end of his address, repeating the same allegations and assertions just with minor syntactic and lexical changes, and in one moment he’s even offering himself to the courts, asking for charges to be pressed against him similarly as Nikola Gruevski asked to be arrested, imprisoned etc. But the most important thing is that his words cannot depict the truth that would be adequate to the objective and shared reality. On the contrary, nothing else can be seen, except for the confronting and attacking rhetoric, spiced with plethora of untruths, spins and manipulations with the aim to justify the abuse of the Constitution by not entrusting the mandate to a coalition with a clear majority.
Of course, the abuse of the Constitution in this case is too severe to be justified in any manner, especially because this is a clear precedent in the time period after the breakup of former Yugoslavia and on the entire Balkan territory, that a coalition with parliamentary majority isn’t entrusted with a mandate, thus unable to implement the citizens’ election will.